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Robyn's Pond Newsletter July 2005

Last Updated: 2/14/14

Introduction and Miscellaneous:

If you have something pond-related that you want to share (information, jokes, web sites, pond secrets and tidbits, something pond-related for sale), let me know, and I will add it to the next newsletter. What topics would you like me to cover? Do you have a question that I can answer or pose to others in the next newsletter?

On 6/8/05, two more ducks visited our pool cover, this time two male mallards. Here is a photo: http://www.fishpondinfo.com/photos/birds/other/ducks2.jpg

Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages:

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures2.htm -
Under miscellaneous are seven photos of Chris' pond and one of Brian's pond.

2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/bigpondphotos1.htm - (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
Under summer 2005 are five photos of my 1800 gallon pond when it pumped out (see below), a photo of the view of the pond from below (downhill), a photo of the overflow that someone requested, and a photo of the fish under the net.

3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/otherpondphotos.htm - (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
Under summer 2005 for other ponds are four photos in my 153 gallon pond including two of a purple water iris in bloom (I do not know the specific variety), an Albata waterlily flower, and the same flower from farther away. After developing the photo, I realized there is a bullfrog in the photo, hiding underwater which you can see too.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 6/5/05, I squirted off the flosses and the Cyprio biothings in the kiddie pool. They have a lot of this weird moss-like algae stuff that I've never been able to figure out what it is (moss, fungus, moss animals?). They also have a lot of midge larvae including bloodworms and various little mud houses they live in. The 1800 gallon pond was at 72 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 70 degrees F. It was in the mid-80's degrees F in the air. I don't like the heat. I put fresh mosquito dunks in the fish-less ponds. In the Tricker pond, the tropical waterlily bud that was on there when I got it opened under the water. It was purple/blue, pretty, and very small. The day before, I put a bunch of java moss from my 50 gallon tank in the Tricker tub pond because I needed to get it out of there (way overgrown) but didn't want to throw it away. Of course, I thought that maybe I might end up with even more rosy barbs. Hence, it was no surprise when I saw a baby darting around in there that had been in the wad of java moss. I haven't seen the goldfish fry in my 50 gallon pond (too yucky to see) but the few fry still in the litter buckets are getting big. In the overflow of my 1800 gallon pond was the first batch of green frog eggs I've seen this year. The wood frogs are getting ready to leave their tub pond. I'm sure the daphnia will miss them.

2. On 6/12/05, I squirted off the flosses and various things I do each week. It has been in the 90's all week so the 1800 gallon pond was at 80 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 78 degrees F. I'm now in my swim suit. I found three big goldfish stuck inside one of my submerged plant protectors! They don't do anything to protect the plants but sure do catch fish who will wiggle into the smallest holes to get in there (I had to break a hole to even get to them)!

There is now one poor goldfish in my 1800 gallon pond with severe dropsy who is floating and gasping. I think I mentioned him a while back. I know - I'm horrible for not treating him. The reasons I am not are these: I have never cured a fish of dropsy; the only real cure would be antibiotic injections which require a fish vet, and there are none in my state; I don't have time to maintain another tank or pond nor do I have another tank or a place for it; and the fish is more apt to be stressed and upset by such a move than just letting it finish its last days in the pond with its buddies. Dropsy bacteria are pretty much always in the water so it doesn't really spread unless a fish is in poor health. The other fish are fine and were exposed a long time ago. I will add a little more pond salt and perhaps some MelaFix to the pond but not nearly the doses I would give the sick goldfish if I had it in a small tank. I simply have too many fish to treat each one for every problem.

My 50 gallon lotus tub pond has cleared up for some reason. I think the daphnia got in there. There is no sign of all those goldfish fry I put in there! The few in the litter tubs are getting big. The green frogs put some eggs in there.

3. The morning of 6/13/05, when I looked out at the pond (one of the first things I do in the morning), I saw a bunch of rocks that I shouldn't have been seeing! Then, I noticed the water line. The pond had dropped 6 inches overnight or about a quarter of the volume. When I went to examine the situation, it was obvious. An animal (I blamed the raccoon at the time) had moved the top rock where the waterfall comes out, diverting water splashing out of the liner coverage area and into the mulch. I fixed it and pumped 30 minutes worth of well water into the pond. It still wasn't full so I added more that night. The pond has a slow leak on one side of the falls due to the settling that has occurred. The rocks and dirt have sunk down over the years, pulling the liner along with them. Some water runs right up at the very edge of the liner mixed in with the mud. It's just a slow leak sort of problem. I will try to fix it in the late fall when the plants have died back. The plants also wick water and divert it so it's hard to tell how much of a factor that they are.

4. The morning of 6/15/05, the dropsy goldfish was floating upside down and had died. The night before, I added some pond salt and a full dose of MelaFix which caused foam on the pond water. So much for trying to help him. The mostly red/orange with white-tipped fins common goldfish was 8 inches long, and its large body was like jello (full of fluid).

5. On 6/17/05, I went through the two litter buckets and collected three goldfish fry that are almost an inch long. I did this by pouring a little bit at a time into an aquarium net, turning that onto the ground (a dirt patch area), and hand sifting looking for anything that moves. There were no more tadpoles (the raccoons had gotten the two that were in there). The only animals to be discarded were some pond snails. I put the three goldfish into my Tricker pond until fall.

6. I looked out the window on 6/19/05 to see that one of my nightmare's had come true. My 1800 gallon pond was 80% empty! The fish were flopping in less than a foot of water in the deep end, the koi's backs out of the water. I rushed out, turned off the power (one pump was dry, the other almost so), grabbed the hose, started water flowing into the pond, checked the shallows for stranded fish (none were found), and removed the two stones off the top of the biofilter. Multiple things had conspired to bring this about. A neighbor who collects intact purebred dogs, let his dogs run around. A mastiff has taking a liking to using my biofilter as his water bowl (he needs one that big!). Six days earlier, he had dislodged the stones, diverting water out. He had done it again. Now, those stones are staying off, exposing the liner which you're never supposed to do. With the water level down, liner was exposed, water lilies were wilting and very unhappy, marginals were suddenly terrestrials, and snails were drying out (I rescued a few).

Anyway, my father failed to tell me the mastiff had been visiting as I'd requested. My mother and I went out that day from 2 to 8 pm because she bought tickets to Cirque du soleil (I had to take the previous day off work to do my dozen hours of chores) so I didn't do my usual 7 pm check of the chickens, rabbits, and ponds outside. So, I failed to notice the problem. The ONE day I don't do an evening check of the pond! Overnight, the pond slowly splashed out. I got up late and didn't notice until 7:30 am.

We have well water so we can't run the well dry so I added 30 minutes worth of water that morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, 20 minutes at dusk, and 25 minutes at dawn to bring the pond within a few inches of full. The huge water change had to be stressful for the fish. The well water is cold, high in carbon dioxide (which if it comes out inside the fish causes gas bubble disease), low in oxygen, low in alkalinity (almost no buffering capacity), and low in hardness. I got the main falls running after the first addition of water, and the smaller pump later in the day. That hopefully, along with the incremental additions of water, kept the gas levels in check. I added some pond salt (almost gone though) and baking soda to try to add in some ions and buffering capacity (pH stability).

I got in that day to do my Sunday chores in water up to my knees that would normally be at my crotch. It was weird. It made it both harder and easier to do things. I squirted off both flosses and the Cyprio biothings. With that second water addition and by moving its inlet downwards, I got my smaller pump (into the Cyprio filter) going again. Luckily the pump hadn't been killed by pumping dry. I fertilized all the lilies that were all messed up and drying out even though I finally got most of them into the water. The lotus wasn't happy either. I fertilized it and a few of the stranded marginals. Inside the submerged plant protectors this week was not a goldfish but a large male bullfrog. I don't know how long he'd been under there but he was barely responsive. My mother took photos of me holding his limp body. If he'd been under up to a week, he probably was oxygen deprived. When I let him go, he just bobbed in the water. I hope he recovered. These plant "protectors" are one step from being removed. But how else do I keep any submerged plants in this pond?

The 1800 gallon pond was at 68 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 69 degrees F. I tested some pond water and couldn't get consistent pH readings across kits (one said 5, another 8.2) due to either bad kits and/or lack of buffering. The temporary hardness was about 5 dKH which while low for most people is about normal for my pond with added baking soda. The fish seem to be okay. The well water also squirted in a few cups of inert sediment (granite and formica) as that spigot does not have the sediment filter. Of course, now rocks are coming out of all the taps since the well is low thanks to me. The rocks actually grind down our teeth. Fun!

7. On 6/23/05, I came home to find the Neopolitan mastiff and his boxer girlfriend getting into all sorts of trouble. He swam around in my 50 gallon lotus tub pond, pulling out the lotus and lily. I replanted them only to have to do it again an hour later, this time with the only lotus leaf with a bite taken out of half of it. Then, he knocked over my 153 gallon fountain (I think they fell into the pond) and pushed down the head so it was sprinkling the yard. I fixed it before it drained the pond dry. This would have been even lower than the other pond since the intake sits right on the bottom! Before he did that, I had to put in two inches of water that he had drank from that pond! Then, the boxer tried to get to my rabbits. She jumped up and down, racking her nails onto the hardware cloth (rabbit wire). She warped the wire, smeared the windows and doors in her blood, and actually broke through one of the windows. The 15-year-old wire had started to rust. Now, they have to be replaced (no easy task). The two rabbits were petrified. Mister Tiny was even splattered in blood, presumably from the boxer as he seemed to not be hurt. While this occurred, the mastiff tried to eat my cat Elvisina. So, I'd had enough. I walked into my old dog pen. They followed. I shut them in and called their owner who showed up a few hours later. Their names are Gator and Lovey, and they "got out." Okay, so they "get out" every day. He says it won't happen again but it turns out this was the same boxer I'd "found" a few years ago along with a Boston terrier. I'm starting to lose my desire to have a dog (making my parents happy).

8. On 6/26/05, I squirted off the flosses and the bioballs which were really full of pond sludge. The 1800 gallon pond was at 79 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 76 degrees F. My Fabiola lily was in bloom which is very rare so I wanted to take a close-up digital photo. Now, I rarely fall in my pond but of course, when taking photos, all rules are off. On the way back from the photo, I started to fall in but caught myself by cutting my arm on the tropical lily 5 gallon pot. The camera stayed dry. My lily pot got dumped - dirt, rocks, and the two tubers. By netting the bottom, I finally brought up the tubers which are only the size of walnuts. Despite a month of really hot weather, they have barely grown and have just a few tiny leaves (no roots). I hope this didn't finish them off. The green frogs laid eggs in the Tricker pond which has done a real turnaround and is its own little ecosystem with plants and animals doing well. In the fall, I'll have to empty that entire pond to rescue the fish and tadpoles. Without dirt on the bottom, that should be simple.

Pond Tidbits:

1. There are many predators that may take pond fish. If fish simply vanish without a trace, it is often a heron who is responsible but other possibilities include hawks, owls, kingfishers, egrets, ducks, snakes, and humans. If parts of the poor fish are strewn about, it is often the fault of a raccoon but could be a cat, fox, opossum, or other such animal. Sometimes, fish are just left seemingly intact to die out of water. It is possible the fish ended up there all by itself or someone put it there. When a heron couldn't swallow one of my larger goldfish, he did leave the fish there to suffocate. Other animals may occasionally do the same thing. The raccoons often pull out snails and tadpoles and leave them to dessicate, sometimes taking a bite, sometimes not. They must think of them as playthings.

2. Marty asked me about using bricks and cement blocks in ponds. In general, anything made of brick is safe for ponds over 100 gallons. My 153 gallon is edged in brick (in the water). The bricks will fall apart over time in water but I use them in my ponds to hold pots up a little higher. Things that are made of cement will raise the pH and hardness if they aren't pre-treated. If the pond is small, putting in a new cement block or cement anything could be hazardous for the aquatic animals. Larger ponds are less affected. Cement blocks or other cement things can be sort of pre-treated by getting them to leach some of their pH-raising chemicals. Most cement is Portland cement which is primarily limestone. To leach/treat cement things, soak them in acid. If you can get hydrochloric acid (called muriatic acid at pool stores) or dilute sulfuric acid, those are pretty strong. They will eat some of the cement and react with the basic limestone, creating some foaming. If you can't get those acids, then acetic acid will work a little. That is an organic acid commonly sold as vinegar. Cement things may also simply be aged by spending a lot of time in water or a huge pond. The longer it's been sitting around, the less danger it poses. Even rain will wash out the lime over time.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. None this month.

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